Midnight Bourbon a legit contender in Preakness Stakes

BALTIMORE — Midnight Bourbon hopes to take a path to the winner’s circle on the Preakness that has efficiently been run earlier than — 30 years in the past.

Hansel was the horse hyped to win the Kentucky Derby three a long time in the past however struggled in the primary leg of the Triple Crown. He was an afterthought going into the Preakness earlier than successful it.

Hansel’s jockey Jerry Bailey sees related potential in Midnight Bourbon.

“He had been so consistent — he had never been out of the top three,” Bailey, now an NBC Sports analyst, stated of Midnight Bourbon. “He’s the most likely of those type of horses that have always been consistent and wasn’t there in the Derby and now everybody’s writing him off.”

While Derby winner Medina Spirit will likely be the Preakness favorite if drug tests clear him to run, fellow Bob Baffert-trained Concert Tour and sometimes front-running Midnight Bourbon are the highest challengers in Saturday’s race.

Midnight Bourbon was put in on the morning line because the third betting alternative at 5-1 behind 9-5 favourite Medina Spirit and 5-2 Concert Tour. The oddsmakers actually suppose Midnight Bourbon stands a good likelihood of dealing with the 10-horse area in the Preakness higher than he did 19 in the Derby, when he completed sixth.

“I’m very confident because of who he is physically,” coach Steve Asmussen stated. “He’s very strong physically and his energy level’s been very high since the Derby, so I do think that it’s helpful with him.”

Jockey Mike Smith, who jumped ship to Concert Tour, stated Midnight Bourbon stumbled out of the beginning gate in the Derby. A cleaner begin would permit the colt to raised run the race he’s accustomed to from nearer to the lead.

If Medina Spirit isn’t scratched for a drawback stemming from extra exams agreed to by Baffert’s camp and Maryland racing officers, he’s anticipated to be on the lead once more with stablemate Concert Tour. Bailey identified trainers have run a number of horses with completely different house owners in the Preakness earlier than, however this one is extra difficult as a result of they’ve the identical working fashion and will put on one another down.

“The only thing I’d worry about is if they get in each other’s way in a race,” assistant coach Jimmy Barnes stated. “You’ve got to give them all a fair shot, and the best horse will win.”

A pace duel on the lead might arrange effectively for Chad Brown’s two entries, 10-1 Crowded Trade or 15-1 Risk Taking, Michael McCarthy’s 12-1 Rombauer or Robertino Diodoro’s 15-1 Keepmeinmind, who completed seventh in the Derby.

“On paper I think there’s definitely enough pace, and the smaller field helps,” Diodoro stated. “We’re going to stay on the rail as long as we can this time.”

Or Baffert’s horses might run sluggish sufficient early to arrange one thing of a match race down the stretch.

“He’s definitely not going to send two [horses to the lead], but at the same time there’s a concern that they could control the pace, his two horses,” Diodoro stated. “We’re not going to change our running style.”

Bailey is aware of that philosophy effectively from the 1991 Triple Crown, when Hansel completed tenth in the Kentucky Derby after going off as the favourite. That’s why he doesn’t suppose Midnight Bourbon must be dismissed as a Preakness contender.

But there’s way more speak about Concert Tour, who appears to be like primed to enhance on a disappointing third-place end in the Arkansas Derby on April 10. Barnes stated, “Concert Tour didn’t get his chance in the Derby, so this is his chance to shine.”

Rivals across the barn at Pimlico Race Course suppose so, too. Irad Ortiz might be aboard Midnight Bourbon solely as a result of Smith selected Concert Tour as a substitute.

“I would suggest that Mike thought he had a better chance to win on Concert Tour than Midnight Bourbon and that’s why he chose it,” Asmussen stated. “Concert Tour’s as fast as you can be. He is obviously a formidable horse.”

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